Insight Blog

Evaluating a Prospective Hire I: Assessing True Motivations

If you’re like most executives or hiring managers we talk to, a critical component of your success is securing talented employees. Hiring is not easy – it requires a significant investment of time, resources, and often, a bit of a leap of faith when you ultimately select the individual to hire. Evaluating a candidate’s true motivations for considering a new opportunity and understanding his or her primary interests in the your company and role are crucial parts of a successful hire. We find that most individuals involved in interviewing and making hiring selections are comfortable asking questions to learn about a candidate’s skills, capabilities, and experience, but they are less certain of how to determine the intangibles that also factor into a successful hire, such as cultural fit, motivations, ambitions and career goals.

In this 3-part series, we provide suggestions on:

  • Interviewing to assess a candidate’s true motivations

  • Determining a candidate’s fit within your company’s culture and role

  • Leveraging references to further evaluate a candidate

Assessing a Candidate’s Motivations

One of the first things to consider is why the individual has decided to pursue a new opportunity. Taking the direct approach – simply asking “What has prompted you to look for another opportunity?" – can sometimes uncover a candidate’s motivations. But that question is often expected and will most likely invoke a rehearsed response. Jim Lord, one of Helbling’s Managing Directors and search consultants, suggests asking other questions to reveal the primary reasons the individual may be considering a change:

  • What are the responsibilities and / or challenges of your current position that you do not enjoy or that make you dissatisfied?

  • What aspects of your role do you not like?

  • What are the characteristics of your current company that make you feel like you do not belong there?

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

  • Describe the opportunity for career progression with your current company.

  • How would you describe your current supervisor’s management style? What do you like and not like about that style?

  • If you could change one thing about your current position / situation, what would it be?

  • What is your current compensation? What types of increases do you typically see?

  • Why did you leave your prior job? Work back through an individual’s resume to discover why he or she has made each change. This may reveal a pattern of behavior and may be indicative of how a candidate will behave in the future.

By listening to the responses and asking the individual to elaborate when necessary, you are likely to acquire key information. Understanding a candidate’s motivations will allow you to consider whether the opportunity your company offers will be more of the same or a refreshing change for the candidate.